The outcry following the revelation that Shell would buy Australia’s “greenest” power company revealed a sizable shift in Australia’s understanding of greenwashing and corporate responsibility.
In the month after the takeover was announced, the ABC gathered data to estimate that Powershop had lost 6,000 of its 185,000 customers across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.
Social media raged with the news that a fossil fuel giant would take over the company, which Greenpeace ranked first in its Green Electricity Guide published in 2018. Activism group GetUp ran a campaign on the corporate takeover, encouraging customers to switch providers – a call which seems to have been heeded with minor “green electricity” retailers reporting spikes in new customers over the last three months. GetUp! launched a major campaign encouraging Powershop customers to abandon the company, which could no longer reasonably be seen as “green.”
As of Feb. 1, Shell’s takeover of Powershop Australia was completed nonetheless, clearing the final regulatory steps. The company will now operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Shell under the Powershop brand within the Shell Energy business in Australia, which is part of Shell’s Global Renewables and Energy Solutions business.
Shell bought the business after teaming up with Australian investment manager Infrastructure Capital Group to take over Powershop’s partner company, Meridian Energy Australia, a subsidiary of New Zealand-based company Meridian Energy. The price Shell paid for Powershop, and its certified clean and green credentials, remains undisclosed.
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